China and Finland win UNESCO prize for use of artificial intelligence in education

UNESCO has awarded this year’s prize for ICT in education to the Chinese project “One College Student Per Village”, as well as to the collaborative education platform “ViLLE” from Finland.

Both projects use artificial intelligence (AI) to counter the negative effects of schools being closed due to COVID-19.

According to UNESCO, “the disruption in schooling has exacerbated a pre-existing learning crisis and caused a massive new loss in learning.”

With this prize, UN’s educational, scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) wants to “encourages the use of inclusive and human-centred AI applications to support the continuity of quality learning as schooling in many parts of the world is disrupted by COVID-19,” the organisation said when announcing the winners on April 6, 2021.

The ”One College Student Per Village” programme is implemented by the Open University of China. The programme features a smart learning platform, which provides an increasing number of students from rural and remote areas with quality learning experiences.

As of 2020, more than 800,000 learners enrolled in 3,735 learning centres nationwide have benefited from the programme, UNESCO stated.

The collaborative education platform “ViLLE” is developed by the Centre for Learning Analytics at the University of Turku, Finland. It offers students a personalized set of exercises and provides their teachers with detailed reports on the students’ progress. More than 300,000 students use the platform and 14,000 registered teachers have collaboratively created over 4,000 courses and 130,000 exercises.

With the prize – that is officially called the 2020 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education – the laureates receive $25,000 for their use of AI to enhance the continuity and quality of learning despite the pandemic.

Established in 2005 and supported by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the prize annually rewards individuals and organizations that use digital technologies to enhance education.